After quitting my job in Bucharest and preparing for the London adventure, I took two weeks off to travel somewhere new. It seems like the things you plan in advance, but it was all very last minute. I booked my flight one week before, and I made it work on the way. I got to see some amazing views, so I have a few suggestions on how to avoid the crowd in Thailand.
Not the best start
I arrived in Bangkok and took a flight to Phuket. When I got to Phuket, it was raining a lot, and the bus from the airport left me in a quiet area. I rushed to the first roof I could see. When I turned, there were the owners (I guess), looking at me. I asked for permission to stay there, they didn’t speak English, but one of them even brought me a chair, so I took it as a yes.
When the rain stopped, I went to find my hostel. I had booked with them one night then, and another one after three days. I wanted to pay for both nights at once. After unsuccessful attempts to explain, I gave up. I just had some yummy food and went to sleep.
I went to Koh Phi Phi for the next days, the party island. The good side, it is very animated, with lots of young people and great parties. The bad, it’s touristy and crowded. The awesome photos you see on the internet, are not so enjoyable to take. There are lots of people next to you trying to do the same, but well, the details. I got a nice tan, enjoyed the great weather and parties, the food and cold drinks and went back to Phuket.
Phuket was a nice surprise, now that I had a day to explore it. It has a pretty old town, with the Sino-Portuguese buildings.
Off to explore
So according to my not-well-defined plan, the next day I was supposed to go to Khao Sok National Park for a three-day safari. I tried to book it very last minute over the phone, but the travel agency was based in the Netherlands, and in Thailand was already very late. The guy couldn’t confirm my booking but said I could just go there and check, and sent me an email with directions in the attachment.
Except, he forgot to attach it! It was end of business hours, so I couldn’t find anyone by the time I realized. So here I am, late in the night, thinking should I go to the jungle without any booking? Or better go the safe way, to Krabi or somewhere near?
I decided to go to Khao Sok, like, how bad can it be? It’s a 4h ride from Phuket. If I don’t find anything, the worst of the worst, I come back at night. I woke up early morning and took a pink public bus. I got to Khao Sok by noon, and the bus left me in the middle of nowhere. It was a crossroads, trees on the sides, and a tiny kiosk with no one there. Not what I was hoping for. I had two phone numbers from this agency, I started calling one – inexistent number.
A more remote area
Ok, maybe now it’s time to panic. Then I called the second one, and someone answered. They came to pick me up in a few minutes. I forgot to mention this was low season. So I got to this beautiful resort in the middle of the jungle. They gave me a big (family size) tree house. I looked a bit puzzled, but they said it’s ok.
Then the chef asked me what do I want for dinner. He would prepare whatever I want, as I was their only guest. I felt so spoiled! For them, I seemed weird, as they were used to see families and some even asked me how come I travel by myself. I really loved my stay there, it was all done at my own pace and desire. One of the best experiences. I went kayaking on the rivers, feed the fish and the monkeys. It was so quiet and peaceful, listening and enjoying the nature.
The floating house
I had booked two night in the tree house and the third in a floating house. For the last part, I was not the only one anymore, we were three. The boat ride had great views and the floating houses were in an even more remote area. We had limited electricity, no network, and no internet. I went to visit a floating village and swim in a bat cave.
In the afternoon I took the kayak and explored a bit. When I got tired, I parked the kayak in front of the house and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and writing in my journal. It was perfect. In the night I went for a short guided jungle walk, which was very nice. I recommend going to Khao Sok National Park, it’s really amazing.
Then I went back to Phuket. From here, I had too many days for Bangkok, but too few to go somewhere else. While I was still thinking about what to do, I was chatting with friends in Singapore, so I decided to meet them for the weekend. I took a flight to Singapore on Friday night. I spent all Saturday in Singapore and Sunday morning I went to Bangkok. It looks tiring, but I didn’t feel it. Also, it was quite spontaneous and I added more nice memories to my travel.
Bangkok, I only remember I had fun. The nightlife is great, lots of bars and entertainment. For the main attractions, there are lots of tourist traps. I went to the floating markets, which are very nice, I spent half of the day there. I also went to the rooftop bar from the Hangover movie. And indeed, it has great views.
Thailand is a lovely destination, totally worth visiting. And no wonder it’s getting more and more touristy. Some of the beautiful places are not so enjoyable anymore because of being too crowded. And the local population adapted to this increasing flow of tourists, which is both good and bad. I would say that depending on where you go in Thailand, your experience can vary quite a lot.
If you like the less touristy parts of S-E Asia, Cambodia should be on your list!